Superstars Lionel Messi and Megan Rapinoe are the favourites to lift the Ballon d’Or trophies in the men and women’s category respectively come Monday.
Rapinoe played a stellar role in USA Women football team retaining the FIFA World Cup title in Paris this year and is head and shoulders above her rivals to win the women’s prize at the Chatelet Theatre.
Among the world cup stars who have been nominated apart from Rapinoe include Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle and Tobin Heath of USA, England’s Lucy Bronze, Netherlands striker Vivianne Miedema and Australia’s Sam Kerr.
Bronze has picked Rapinoe to win the award. “She does lots of things off the pitch, but I think she is the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or mainly down to her performances during the World Cup,” Bronze told France Football.
However, in the men’s category the competition is not straightforward. While Messi seems to be at the top of the pecking order, Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk also presents a strong case who won Champions League with Liverpool.
“If you give the Ballon d’Or to the best player of this generation then you should give it always to Lionel Messi. That’s how it is. But if you give it to the best player of last season, then it was Virgil van Dijk. I don’t know exactly how it will work but that is how I see it,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had said.
Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard also backs Van Dijk. “I’m Messi’s number one fan, for sure. I love the player. Obscene numbers in his game in terms of assists and goals.”But if you talk about consistency from one player over a year, who wins the European Cup and is absolutely faultless in every performance, that means you deserve to win the Ballon d’Or,” he told William Hill.
However, Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo, who has jointly won the most no. of Ballon d’Or alongside his great rival Messi, has also his set of supporters including coach Maurizio Sarri.
“Cristiano did well in the last game, even with some resistance. Now he just has to grow in terms of brilliance. I hope that Cristiano wins the Ballon d’Or, de Ligt the Kopa Trophy and that Dybala will one day be a future Ballon d’Or contender,” Sarri said.